High School Sports

Fuquay-Varina rolls by Panther Creek, closing in on SWAC softball championship

Panther Creek's Corinne Somers (9) winds up to throw to first base as Fuquay-Varina's Chloe Baker (6) slides into second base during a high school softball game in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.
Panther Creek's Corinne Somers (9) winds up to throw to first base as Fuquay-Varina's Chloe Baker (6) slides into second base during a high school softball game in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. newsobserver.com

For Fuquay-Varina softball’s seniors, getting “2016” printed under “conference champions” on the sign in centerfield wall has been a goal since they were freshmen.

After losing three of four games in the middle of March, the Bengals have stepped their play up and have won nine in a row, putting themselves in a position to clinch their first Southwest Wake Athletic Conference title since 2011.

Panther Creek, who came into Wednesday evening’s game on a five-game win streak of their own, became Fuquay’s latest victim in a 9-2 victory.

The win moved the Bengals to 15-3 (13-2 SWAC), but more importantly kept the them at the top of the conference standings with only one more game against Cary remaining in the regular season.

“We finish up strong against Cary, this looks really good,” Fuquay coach Deb Clarke said. “I’m so proud of my seniors. You always want to put your year up on that board, it’s really, really special to them and if we clinch it, it’ll make their season.”

Panther Creek (15-6, 10-6), who barely snuck into last year’s playoffs before making a dramatic “Cinderella Story” run, aren’t hanging their heads after what was its first loss since April 15.

“It’s anybody’s game when we take the field,” Panther Creek coach Bryan Cromer said. “Today showed me as a coach that our girls aren’t going to quit. They can be down 20-0 and they’re still going to come and punch back as best they can.”

Turning point

After committing three consecutive errors against the bottom of the Bengals’ lineup in the second inning, the Catamounts put themselves in a hole they couldn’t climb out of despite an offensive revival in the final two innings.

Gwendy Powell, Cathan Soto, Taylor Smith, Bri Smith, Hayden Parker and Ada Privette all scored in the inning for Fuquay.

“We sat back on our heels the first couple innings and it took us getting a six-run inning against us to wake up,” Cromer said. “Take away that inning and it’s a different ball game.”

They said it

Sophomore Taylor Smith hit the first home run of her high school career, a moment she relished.

“It was amazing; I’ve been waiting for that for a long time. I’ve worked so hard for that moment.” –Taylor Smith, Fuquay-Varina

Three to know

Cassidy Keith, Fuquay-Varina: Started the game with four perfect innings and allowed only three hits all game to keep the Catamounts’ on-base percentage to just .120.

Ashlyn Long, Fuquay-Varina: Only had one hit in the stat book, but led all players with four RBIs off a three-RBI double and a sacrifice fly. Also posted a perfect fielding percentage.

Rachel Johnson, Panther Creek: Was the only Catamount with multiple hits, going 2-for-3.

By the numbers

4: Players to get on base for Panther Creek – Johnson, Julia Barrineau, Alena McNally and Hannah Rosenberger. Cassidy Somers, Sarah Aukamp and McNally also had sacrifice bunts or flys, with Aukamp’s and McNally getting RBIs.

7: Players with hits for Fuquay-Varina: Long, Soto (2), Alyssa Smith, Bri Smith, Taylor Smith (2), Powell (2) and Chloe Baker.

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